Articles Posted in Fatal Trucking Accidents

There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one in a Maryland truck accident, especially when the accident was completely preventable. While many people are able to drive around the state each day without getting injured, every so often someone will make a careless mistake, leading to a tragic, and potentially fatal, accident. These accidents are a sobering reminder that one mistake or careless decision can literally change an entire life and cause immense pain and suffering.

Recently, a truck driver ran a red light one Saturday morning and hit a car. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the impact of the crash caused a tractor that was on the truck to fall off and onto the car. Tragically, a 10-year-old girl riding in the car with her mother was hit by the crane of the tractor and killed. Her mother was also injured, and was rushed to the hospital, but is expected to survive. The 60-year-old driver of the truck was not hurt.

This accident is a prime example of a collision that could lead to a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought when someone is killed due to someone else’s negligence, typically by the victim’s family or estate. In this case, the girl’s mother, for example, may be able to sue the truck driver for negligence.

Anytime someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident, they have the option to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. These lawsuits can hold whoever caused the accident responsible for the resulting harm, and successful plaintiffs may receive monetary compensation to cover their pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and more. However, in some cases plaintiffs can bring their case against multiple defendants—a driver who caused the accident, and the driver’s employer.

Often, Maryland truck accidents involve truck drivers who are “on the job” and driving the truck for their employer—whether they are carrying mail, produce, or industrial materials. When one of these drivers makes a negligent mistake and causes an accident, the driver as well as their employer could be liable for any injuries caused by the accident. Maryland state law allows employers to be held liable for their employee’s actions when the employee was acting within the scope of their employment when they caused the accident. Importantly, to win in these lawsuits you do not need to prove that the employer was negligent—only their employee. The elements of negligence in a Maryland truck accident are the same as in all other Maryland personal injury accidents; the plaintiff must prove: (1) that the driver owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; (2) that they breached that duty; (3) that their breach was the proximate and actual cause of the damage; and (4) that the plaintiff suffered real damages as a result.

For example, take a recent tragic truck accident that killed a 61-year-old woman. According to a local news report covering the incident, the woman was riding her bicycle one afternoon when an Amazon truck, driven by a 44-year-old man, turned out of the parking lot and struck her. The bicyclist died at the scene, and the investigation of the incident is ongoing. While it’s unclear who was at fault and caused the accident, the victim’s family may be able to bring a case against both the driver and Amazon if the driver was at all careless or at fault. If the driver was driving the truck in furtherance of Amazon’s business—by delivering or picking up packages, for example—then they were acting within their scope of employment. As such, proving that the driver himself was negligent may very well be sufficient to hold Amazon liable as well.

Maryland requires all vehicles to be covered by liability insurance. This requirement is meant to ensure that all drivers and owners are able to financially compensate others for damages resulting from motor vehicle accidents. However, in a Maryland truck accident case, evidence of insurance of lack of insurance is not always permitted as evidence in a civil case. Under Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-411, evidence that a person was or was not insured is not admissible as evidence that a person acted negligently or wrongfully. Evidence of insurance can be admitted as evidence for another purpose, including proof of agency, control, ownership, or bias or prejudice of a witness. For example, evidence that a witness is insured by an insurance company might show that the witness has a potential bias. Evidence of insurance might also be relevant to the issue of whether a party was an employee or an independent contractor, which would impact liability in the case. A driver’s lack of insurance could also be relevant to the issue of whether a company negligently employed an individual to work as a driver.

Maryland’s rule is derived from Federal Rule of Evidence 411. It is meant to prevent unfair prejudice because a jury might infer that a party was at fault based on the party’s lack of insurance. A jury might also infer that a party was not at fault based on the party’s proof of insurance. Even if evidence of insurance or lack of insurance is admissible for another purpose, it may still be excluded on another basis. For example, evidence of a lack of insurance may be unfairly prejudicial and a court might still exclude it. A court has discretion to admit or exclude evidence when it is not prohibited by Rule 5-411. Maryland Rules 5-402 and 5-403 state that evidence that is not relevant is not admissible and that relevant evidence may still be excluded if the probative value is “substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury.”

Woman Killed in Recent Truck Accident

If a defective product is to blame in a Maryland truck accident, a party may be able to bring a product liability claim against the responsible party. A party may be at fault for defective brakes, steering, or another component in a motor vehicle accident if the defect contributed to the accident victim’s injuries.

A Maryland product liability case allows a successful plaintiff to recover monetary compensation for injuries the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defective product. In a Maryland product liability case, a plaintiff generally must show that the product was defective when it left the defendant’s control, that there was not a substantial change in the condition of the product from the time between when it left the defendant’s control and when it reached the consumer, that the product was unreasonably dangerous, and that the defect in the product caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Those who have been injured by a defective product understand that holding the company responsible for causing or allowing the defect is one of the most critical parts of a product liability case, so that others will be protected. If a defective product is to blame for an accident, a plaintiff usually can bring a claim against the manufacturer, along with anyone else in the chain of distribution. If the defect arose from a defect in the design or in the manufacturing process, a plaintiff may be able to bring a claim against the manufacturer and/or designer. A plaintiff generally will be able to sue the party that sold the defective product. In the case of a defective car, this would often be the dealer that sold the vehicle. If a driver knowingly drove a defective car, the driver may also be at fault. It may also be that another party is responsible altogether, such as a car repair shop that made a faulty repair.

A tragic accident has highlighted a sobering truth for Maryland drivers: you never know when catastrophe might hit. A 62-year-old man was killed on April 17th when a semi-truck attempted an unsafe pass. According to a local news report covering the incident, the victim was driving his tractor around 8 a.m. on a Friday morning when a semi-truck, driven by a 43-year-old man, attempted to pass him. The tractor then made a left turn into the driveway and was rear-ended by the semi-truck. This accident left the tractor driver dead.

Although most truck operators drive safely, it is inevitable that when trucks pass other vehicles there is an increased chance of an accident. While passing, in general, can always be risky, trucks are an increased risk because they cannot drive over a certain speed and because of their large size, which blocks other vehicles from passing or merging for a time. Truck drivers, therefore, must be very careful when passing, because they could be held liable in a civil negligence suit if they make an unsafe pass that results in an accident.

If an accident does occur, those injured have a path to recovery under Maryland law. Generally, the plaintiff will need to prove four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to drive and pass carefully. This is generally established if the defendant was operating a truck on the highway. Second, that the defendant breached their duty of care. Usually, proving this involves expert testimony and accident reconstructionists, who explain how the defendant acted carelessly or why they should not have attempted to pass when they did. Third, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s unsafe pass was the proximate cause of the accident. For example, if the driver made an unsafe pass three minutes before the accident occurred, the driver may be able to argue that their unsafe pass did not cause the accident. The final element a plaintiff must prove is that they suffered compensable damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Usually, this is proven through the introduction of medical records and expert witness testimony.

Recently, three family members were killed in a truck accident while on vacation. This accident serves as a sobering reminder of how quickly Maryland truck accidents can change someone’s life in an instant. According to a local news report covering the tragic incident, the family of eight—two parents, two grandparents, and three children—were driving in a rental van on a Florida highway one day when traffic started to slow down. Then, for reasons still unknown to authorities, a truck suddenly rear-ended their vehicle, causing it to roll over and resulting in serious injuries. The truck also hit two other vehicles, but no one in either of those vehicles was seriously injured.

The three victims in the family van were a 41-year-old woman, her 5-year-old daughter, and her 76-year-old mother. The father, grandfather, and one of the other children were also injured and had to be hospitalized, with the 11-year-old child still in critical condition the next day. Authorities are still unsure why the truck did not stop but were able to determine through an investigation that the truck driver was at fault. The crash remains under investigation, and so it is not yet clear whether or not criminal charges will be filed. However, regardless of whether or not there are criminal charges, the surviving victims may be able to bring a claim on their behalf and on behalf of their deceased family members to recover some monetary compensation in the wake of this tragic accident.

If the plaintiffs are able to prove that the truck driver owed a duty of care to their loved ones, and that their loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s breach of that duty, they may be able to recover financial compensation for their losses. Depending on the specific facts of the case, this may include amounts for funeral and burial costs, past and future medical bills, psychiatric care needed to emotionally recover, lost wages, and general pain and suffering endured. While this monetary compensation will not undo the damage that has been done or bring back the loved ones, it may help the family by allowing them to not worry about finances in the aftermath of such a devastating tragedy.

In 2017, distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The problem has become increasingly common in Maryland and throughout the country over the past decade, posing a serious danger to Maryland drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Handheld devices have become commonplace, and research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that for some drivers, the use of advanced driver technology in vehicles made those drivers more likely to engage in distracted driving.

In Maryland, the use of a handheld phone while driving is prohibited. Yet, the use of handheld devices remains prevalent. Maryland law enforcement officers issued more than 34,000 citations for use of a cell phone and more than 1,800 for texting while driving in 2016. Montgomery County, Maryland has tried to take the law a step further by recently introducing a proposal to install cameras to catch distracted drivers and mail out tickets to them, as used for some red light cameras.

All Maryland drivers must generally exercise reasonable care under the circumstances presented. Distracted driving can form the basis for a case against a distracted driver, which would normally be founded in negligence. A plaintiff has to prove the following in a Maryland negligence claim: the defendant had a legal duty to the plaintiff; the defendant failed to meet the duty; the plaintiff suffered damages; and, the defendant’s failure to meet the duty caused the plaintiff’s damages.

In the unfortunate event of a Maryland truck accident, if an employee was behind the wheel, in some circumstances the employer may be able held liable as well. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may be liable for the wrongful acts of its employees, as long as the acts were committed while acting within the scope of employment. The doctrine attributes the acts to the employer even without any wrongdoing on the part of the employer. Instead, the employer is held liable based only on the employer-employee relationship. Under Maryland law, an employer may be sued without suing the employee. The doctrine is meant to hold employers accountable for the actions of an employee because the employee is acting in the employer’s interest and also because the employer often can bear the financial loss better than an employee.

One recent case before a state appellate court illustrated the limits of respondeat superior. In that case, a car crash left a woman dead and her daughter injured. The crash occurred after the tire of another car separated from the car, crossed the median and hit the mother’s car. The husband of the woman (and father of the daughter) filed lawsuits against the driver, his employer, and other parties. According to the court’s opinion, as the employee was driving, another vehicle suddenly came into his travel lane and to avoid a collision, and he quickly changed lanes, causing his tire to come off. The plaintiff claimed that the driver failed to maintain the truck in a safe operating condition and that the employer was vicariously liable. The driver recently did work on his car and had removed the wheels. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment to be dismissed, but the trial court denied the motion.

On appeal, the employer argued that the driver was not driving negligently at the time of the collision. The driver of the vehicle worked as a construction technician. That day, he drove to a warehouse for work, and then drove with a co-worker to a job site. They left the job site and were driving to a guitar store before they had to be at the next job site. He and his co-worker both said that they did not notice anything wrong with the car.

Large commercial vehicle such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, dump trucks, and big-rigs pose a serious threat to motorists when they are not operated in a safe and responsible manner. Indeed, on March 11, 2019, a fatal Maryland truck accident claimed the lives of two people. According to a recent news report, the truck driver responsible for causing that accident now faces criminal charges, including manslaughter, for his role in causing the accident.

The accident occurred near the intersection of MD 24 and Ring Factory Road, at around 7 a.m. Evidently, there were several vehicles stopped at the intersection during rush hour traffic. However, as the truck approached, it did not slow down. The truck ended up rear-ending several of the stopped cars, which then caused a chain-reaction accident involving other nearby motorists. In all, the accident involved a total of 12 cars and trucks. Two vehicles were pinned underneath the semi-truck when it caught fire. A local businessman and a young boy were killed in the collision. Four others, including the young boy’s mother, were seriously injured.

After the fatal accident, police launched an in-depth investigation. They quickly determined that the truck driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, investigators believe that he may have been using his cell phone at the time of the accident. Thus, among the charges the truck driver faces are four counts of causing serious injury while using a cell phone.

In March of this year, a Maryland traffic accident involving a semi-truck killed two and injured four. According to a recent news report covering the tragic accident, the driver was using his cellphone while driving a truck in rush-hour traffic one morning. Evidently, the truck crashed into a line of other vehicles, bursting into flames as it came to a stop. Debris from the accident covered the highway for at least a quarter of a mile, and the road was subsequently closed for most of the day.

Two individuals were tragically killed as a result of this crash: a 65-year-old man and a 7-year-old boy. Additionally, four others were seriously injured. Law enforcement recently charged the truck driver responsible for the fatal accident with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, two counts of criminal negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, and four counts of causing serious injury while using a cellphone while driving. The case is still under investigation.

Unfortunately, distracted driving and truck crashes are not uncommon. Truck drivers often drive for long hours, leading to boredom or fatigue, which truck drivers may attempt to remedy by looking at their phone. Other common causes of distracted driving include watching television, talking to passengers, eating, grooming, and texting.

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